TNM Super League giants Be Forward Wanderers have not renewed contracts for 10 players who have since been put on month-to-month basis until funds are available to pay them their signing-on fees.
Out of 32 players that the Nomads registered for the 2019 season, 22 have running contracts with the Lali Lubani Road outfit.
Contracts for players such as Richard Chipuwa, Harry Nyirenda, Bongani Kaipa, Mike Kaziputa, Hankie Machila and Felix Zulu already expired and have not been renewed.
It does not augur well for the Nomads since contracts for senior players such as Stanley Sanudi, Alfred Manyozo Jnr, Isaac Kaliyati, Ted Sumani, Peter Cholopi, William Thole and Dennis Chembezi are also expiring either next month or early next year and negotiations to have the contracts renewed are yet to start.
Confirming the development, Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire said they have delayed to offer the players new contracts because of financial problems.
“There are quite a number of them. So, it is quite tough for us. We have been financially struggling of late, so what can we do? We will only put them on contracts once funds are available,” he said.
Mkandawire said they arrived at the decision because the players insisted on getting their signing-on fee before putting pen-to-paper.
“So, what has happened is that we have decided to pay them their signing-on fees in instalments. Actually, most of them got a good part of their signing-on fees. Once we finish paying them, they will sign the contracts,” he said.
The arrangement is a complete departure from the norm, whereby players first sign a contract and then get their signing-on fee—whether in full or in instalments.
“Of course, we used to do that. Players could sign the contracts before getting their signing-on fee as indicated in their contracts.
“But the challenge is that we could commit to pay a signing-on fee after a certain period, only to fail to honour the promise because of lack of funds. So, to avoid breach of contract, we have opted for this solution,” he said.
But Mkandawire said since the players are now getting new perks and benefits as indicated in the new agreements, their contracts are considered activated.
“Despite not putting pen-to -paper, the players are ours. They are not free agents by implication,” he said.
But Football Association of Malawi (FAM) licensing and compliance manager Casper Jangale said the situation is tricky for Wanderers since the players can successfully argue that they are free agents as they are not on contract.
“A player is considered on contract if he signs the agreement. Getting new perks and benefits does not necessarily mean one has signed a new contract,” he said.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda noted that the Nomads are overwhelmed by pressure to pay out signing-on fees because all the contracts are expiring the same year.
“We are talking of millions. Look, let’s say each player has to get not less than K3 million signing-on fees. It means the Nomads need a minimum of K20 million to renew these players’ contracts, which is not a joke. That’s why the best way is to put a year or two breather between players’ contracts so that you avoid the present scenario,” he said.